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Returning to work after maternity leave

by Lizzy Wood

My career at the time of falling pregnant was within my dream industry. It was my biggest hobby and I had a great role within the marketing department. Although I lived for the weekend and had a large commute, I still mostly enjoyed my job. Emily was planned, we fell pregnant on our honeymoon funnily enough!

A baby was everything I wanted from life, so we were thrilled when we fell so quickly. Although I did have some health problems during the pregnancy, work was fine. Until one day, I had to leave work suddenly due to a heart condition I have which sent me into hospital by ambulance at around 31 weeks pregnant. After a short hospital stay and more medication I was home, drained and unable to return to work. I felt a little sad I wouldn’t be returning to work before my maternity meaning I wouldn’t get to say bye to everyone. My mum offered to drive me in one day at around 36 weeks pregnant to say goodbye to my colleagues and tie up any loose ends I had left. Everything was good. I even had a bit of extra time to clean and prepare for Emily’s arrival in those extra weeks.

Emily was born at 41 weeks and my life changed completely. It really did! Up until then, I lived for my hobby and my career, then all of a sudden I was sat on my sofa with the most beautiful, precious, screaming, pooing baby attached to my nipples! Oh!

My maternity leave continued and I started to enjoy my new life and spending time with my mummy friends which involved lots of coffees out. Something was always at the back of my mind though; work! I knew I had to go back to work, life would be too much of a stretch to survive on my husbands salary at the time. I’d been there since leaving university, my career meant too much to throw away. Emily was born at the end of March and I planned to return straight after Christmas.

There were two big problems, childcare being one and wanting to return to work part-time. I came to a fantastic arrangement with Emily’s grandparents who shared the childcare. Lucky I know! I could return to work 3 days, the problem was getting my employer to allow this. If you are in this situation my biggest advice is to start the conversation as early as possible with your employer so you have plenty of time to come to a suitable arrangement. My employer finally agreed to three days and employed someone new to take part of my work load.

January came, I was as nervous as anything! I actually believe you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t nervous going back to work after maternity leave. I took longer than usual getting ready that morning and finding something to wear which hid my new mummy tummy! I walked in, feeling slightly sick and very worried. As I walked in I remember so many colleagues being lovely and most importantly normal with me! Within 5 minutes it felt as if I’d never been off, what a relief. Then the good part comes, as I was in an office role, I could make myself a coffee whenever I wanted. Guess what happened, I made a coffee, and then I drank it…hot! Yes that’s right! Next thing was to go through the 8,000 emails in my inbox, I didn’t get much else done that day! Obviously there were several text messages to my mum during the day, checking on Emily and my mum checking on me of course! 5pm came and I was happy, it was fine, the day flew by, I had peaceful toilet breaks and hot coffee all day, and I was bringing money home. Work really wasn’t that bad at all.

I couldn’t wait to get home and see Emily, the break was good for me, it allowed me time to miss her which was a good thing. I started to make exciting plans for our two “mummy & Emily days” as I called them. Soft play trips, park trips, shopping trips, and of course I now had spare money to treat her to the odd toy and lunch out for us both. Life was good.

Since then I’ve had a career change, my job started to change, it wasn’t the same fun it once was and I wasn’t getting the same opportunities anymore. I’m sure this was just my personal experience and doesn’t happen for most though. I finally decided I actually wasn’t enjoying work anymore, my husband was sick of hearing me moan about it so told me to quit, to his horror and shock, I did! I now have set up my own business and am working hard to make it profitable and enjoying the extra time at home with Emily. She’s at preschool now, so I am enjoying my hot coffee once more (whilst I write this) and when it’s pick up time we’ll be straight on the park!


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